Final Report, MIT Committee on EVAT

Long-Range Recommendations

These are not recommendations for action; they are recommendations for study. The resulting programs require further study to verify feasibility, and then more than a year for implementation. Other pages contain short-range and medium-range recommendations.

The Committee recommends that MIT monitor carefully trends in advanced technologies, which both offer opportunities and present risks.

  1. Lifelong Learning. Advanced technologies may permit effective distance education so that education in mid career become more feasible. A natural group to think of is our own alumni/ae, because they are known to us, and we are known to them. An extensive program of career-long education could be thought of in terms of various analogies. Several industries offer extended warranties or technical assistance, and make money doing so. In our case we might serve the needs of our graduates at the time they perceive those needs. We might offer upgrades to our graduates, to update the technical ideas they have in their minds. The analogy is to the software industry, which regularly issues software upgrades and invites customers to buy the latest version. Another metaphor is the Health Maintenance Organization. In our case, an Educational Maintenance Organization might emphasize preventing obsolescence by introducing alumni/ae to new ideas and new skills before their lack causes problems. Any of these models changes how we think of our students, from customers during an intense 4 or 5 year period, to that of partners in education, with a relationship lasting through the end of the their careers.
  2. Pre-Freshmen. Many high-school seniors who are accepted to MIT are capable of taking one of our freshman subjects. The opportunity to do this would increase the likelihood of their choosing MIT in preference to another university. The program would also increase the visibility of MIT in high schools and result in more qualified applicants.
  3. Risks and Opportunities. MIT could easily misjudge the impact of advanced technologies if we are not prepared. If distance education becomes well understood by other universities but not us, we are at risk of losing our reputation as leaders in education. We might find ourselves competing on price with other universities in courses like our freshman subjects. Or, on the other hand, we might overlook the opportunity to capitalize on MIT's name recognition to market education programs for the large number of students who are qualified for MIT but whom we cannot admit for lack of space.

This page revised June 12, 1995. Your comments about this report are welcome.
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